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May I make a confession? Just between you and me? At one point in my life, I wasn’t so much into the whole right-to-keep-and-bear-arms thing. I thought the Bill of Rights was important, of course, and thought my rights were important. But I was perfectly willing to admit that perhaps limits to those rights were just as important for the greater good . . .

I don’t recall what I specifically thought about the Clinton Assault Weapons Ban. I wasn’t long out of high school at the time, and so had other things on my mind, I suppose. If you’d asked me at the time, I’d probably have said something along the lines of, “Hey, I don’t think restricting possession of these scary-looking black rifles or those large clips is a big deal, as long as people can still own other guns.”

Yep, I probably would’ve said “clips” back then.

Obviously, I don’t hold those views anymore. Becoming a student of both history and the law (along with a little harsh experience with the nature of humanity) injected a healthy dose of skepticism about such laws and the people who push them. Seeing how things fit together historically and philosophically, along with an improved understanding of Constitutional law, and a little bit of rational self-interest, my position on the subject ‘evolved’, shall we say?

Thanks to my own experience, I’m perfectly open to the idea of people changing their minds — of seeing the light and choosing a different path. I did it multiple times since becoming an adult. If I didn’t think people had the ability to do it, I wouldn’t spend part of my time writing.

All of that is why I didn’t immediately reject out of hand the program that Richmond, California recently started aimed at bringing down violent crime by finding the people most likely to commit violent crimes and…giving them money.

Richmond, California, a city also with a population of about 100,000, launched a program that’s brought down homicide rates by 76 percent since 2007….

“We’ve seen a 76 percent reduction in firearm related homicide, and a 69 percent reduction in firearm assaults,” said DeVone Boggan in a phone interview. Boggan is the director of the Office of Neighborhood Safety in Richmond. “That’s the kind of work that transforms a community,” he said.

One piece of the program includes finding out who are the city’s most dangerous individuals, and handing them cash as an incentive to stop pulling the trigger.

The deal: if they uphold a six-month commitment of engaging with their mentors, making progress with life goals, and staying out of trouble, then they can earn $1,000 dollars a month for up to nine months.

Initially, Richmond’s City Council rejected the program, and the funds were raised through private dollars. Over five years, the program paid out on average $67,000 per year….

“If you’re tired of being tired of this epidemic in your city and your community, you better do something different. I’d recommend leaders take a look at it, I’d recommend them call me,” Boggan said….

The program in Richmond operates under the “Office of Neighborhood Safety,” a branch specifically created to operate this program. It is not law enforcement.

A huge part of the program employs a carefully selected outreach team of six mentors. They are assigned to people who are considered the city’s “most lethal,” and the mentors touch base with them every day, 12-18 hours per week, over the program’s entire 18 months.

“When these young men generate within themselves a greater desire to live, they begin to make different, better, healthier decisions. Their lives begin to change. And those create the conditions that help to transform a city,” Boggan said.

Boggan explained in a story that aired on This American Life earlier this year that his ‘aha’ moment in designing this program came when he was in a meeting with police officers who explained to him that they believed that seventeen guys were responsible for 70% of the shootings in the city of Richmond.

Devone Boggan: “17 people. And I’ll tell you, I almost flipped out of my chair. Cause I was like, 17 people? That’s nothing.”

Boggan realized that if they could reach just those 17 guys and get them to change, they could really make a dent in the problem. He asked the police for a list of those 17 names. He did his own research and added more names. To get on that list, Boggan said, you basically had to have shot someone.

Next, he put together a team of street outreach workers. All of them were from Richmond. Most had served time in prison themselves. And he sent them out to get to know the guys on the list and deliver this message– come to a meeting and we will provide you with a lifestyle alternative that could change your life for the good. Boggan had no idea if any of them would come.

The meeting was scheduled three months later. By that time, a couple of guys on the list were dead. One was in jail. Four others weren’t interested. But the rest of the guys agreed. 21 guys….

That first meeting was five years ago. And since then, they’ve done it every 18 months with a new group….

Over the past five years, 68 guys have gone through the ONS fellowship program. How did they do? Four are dead. A few others are in prison. But of the 68, 43 have completed their goals and graduated. But even more important than those numbers, the overwhelming majority of the guys who have gone through the program– whether they graduated or not– have had no new arrests or charges for gun-related activities.

The essayist for TAL went on to interview a boy named D’vondre Woodward who used the money to transition out of job selling cocaine to a job doing maintenance at a nearby Chevron oil factory.

Of course, there’s something that just doesn’t seem right about finding people who commit crimes and then rewarding them for it. Morally, it doesn’t seem right at all. Still, the reduction in crime appears to have been real…so far, anyway. Perhaps, too, the people going into the program actually want to try to change their lives. $1,000 per month is good, but they could be making a lot more selling drugs. One of the ‘graduates’ of the program notes that it isn’t exactly easy street for the participants:

Rohnell Robinson, a four-year ONS fellow, gushes about the places he’s visited with Boggan’s help—Cowboys Stadium, Dubai—but he confesses that being a part of ONS can be a sort of purgatory where the cops still think you’re a thug and your friends think you may be a narc. “It’s like you gotta protect yourself two times.” The worst part, he says, is “the hate you get coming from your peers, the people you grew up with and who are living on the other side of the fence.” Eric Welch [another participant,] who was shot two more times after joining ONS, has since moved to Florida.

The first thing I thought of when I heard this story was: “You have to be kidding.”

The second thing was: “This kind of reminds me of those so-called gun ‘buy-back’ programs. It’ll probably work just as well.”

The third thing was: “Except…if participants are the ones who are killing people…well, targeting people one way or another is the way to stop this kind of violence.”

No doubt Mr. Boggan would be astonished to learn that he’s essentially taking an old NRA slogan to its logical conclusion. Maybe not, though. Boggan himself appears to have approached the issue from a rather pragmatic perspective, as have other politicians in Richmond:

[Richmond] Councilman Tom Butt, a self-described champion of gun control, voted against a resolution that would have studied options for new gun regulation. California already has some of the strictest gun laws in the country, he says, but “it’s not enough. Regardless of what kind of gun laws you have, people who really want to have a gun are going to find one.”

Seven years ago, Butt became an early supporter of a local anti-violence strategy that sidesteps guns entirely and focuses instead on the people who use them. “Illegal guns have always found their way into urban communities by some mechanism,” says DeVone Boggan, the director of neighborhood safety in the Richmond mayor’s office. “We need to find a way to get these young men not to pick these guns up, to develop the mindset that ‘I’m not going to deal with conflict by using a gun.’”

Can this program scale? Will it work in the long run? I don’t know. Richmond’s population is only 107,571, after all. But there are a lot of mid-sized cities like it (one article notes that city officials from Erie, Pennsylvania, are studying Richmond’s program.) For a resource-poor city with a terrible crime problem, it’s at least a start. If nothing else, it’s better than wasting time passing more gun control laws that will be singularly ineffective at anything other than undermining the Constitutional rights of everyone.


DISCLAIMER: The above is an opinion piece; it is not legal advice, nor does it create an attorney-client relationship in any sense. If you need legal advice in any matter, you are strongly urged to hire and consult your own counsel. This post is entirely my own, and does not represent the positions, opinions, or strategies of my firm or clients.

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  1. Awe crap, somebody figured it out! If this catches on, what will we do for free publicity? We need to put a stop to this NOW I tell you!

    • Ya, the same people who normally just chuck all the working parts of society, the tried/true/tested portions, the stuff that demonstrates mores and norms and ethics and surviving and survivable standards and value systems that have been reinforced through tens, if not hundreds of thousands of years of human interaction (when nobody even freekin’ asked them to do it). Those people, the dominant force of evil (D) blue state a-holes, gave your tax dollars to save 17 kids who caused a substantial chunk of hate and discontent, and nurtured back from the brink people created by a failed society and worthless value system, generated by a “progressive” culture that lets you crap out as many kids as you think we can save for you, because ghetto life is at least as tough for kids as a third world sub-Saharan culture. The we can suffer and tolerate anything goes as long as were fully supported by the regular joe’s, out there, humpin-it day to day, working a couple of jobs, raising their kids modestly, trying to squeeze whatever wage and work they can out of whatever hours of the day they can stay awake.
      Yeah, CA really has a good thing going there. If they popped their head out of their ass long enough to take a breath of air and look around to see that their breeding their own problems with their culture and they are trying to get us to buy in on them.

      Poop to that.

      • Richmond’s government is so screwed up that only Richmond’s Government can fix it. (sarc)

      • There are similar programs for other issues. What the cities doing them are finding out is that it saves money, that it’s cheaper to hand people money they can use as they wish than to deal with all the police and hospital and other costs of not changing anything.

        Milton Friedman had it right: institute the Negative Income Tax, not just because it’s right to take care of our own, but because it’s immensely cheaper than a whole pile of government programs dealing with people that don’t have money so they decide to go take it from someone.

        Long ago I knew a rancher who did this his own way: He was wealthy enough that his whole ranch could have burned down, and he could have gone on vacation around the world while it was being rebuilt just like before, and not have noticed the change in his net worth. So if ranch hands screwed something up, it was no big deal. One day he asked himself not who would make the best ranch hands, but who he could help the most by letting them be ranch hands. And he started going to the courthouse to find criminals with lots of energy, just aimed in the wrong directions. He bailed some out, so long as they’d come live and work on the ranch. That gave them jobs, so they could pay attorneys and probation fees and such. He worked them like crazy, expected them to be responsible, and most of them rose to the expectation, moving on to other occupations and not returning to crime. He employed more ranch hands at once than he’d ever imagined, and saved taxpayers millions, and changed lives.

        I’d rather see things done that way than by the government. But since the record shows that it actually saves us taxpayers money, I say let the government do it (though they ought to be seeking out people like that rancher to take it over, saving us even more).

        • Ya, you reinforced my point. They ignore the failed enclaves of morbid stupidity that breeds problems, because you can’t overcome that part of human nature/dignity/and energy that needs to grind through the day. So set up your “progressive” Vote-Farms, to continue to promote your evil house of (D), and demand praise for milking the moth-tit of human taxation after you’ve run every other dairy dry.
          Throw another buck at it. “We can keep CA a blue state and hopefully the next little batch of fu<Ktard hatchlings won’t go cannibal on us.” Totally ignore what works, what’s REALLY decent, and press on. Soylent Green can be achieved if you have enough taxpayers to suck-start that leaf blower.

        • There are exceptions, but my sense is that the track record is fairly uneven. Profit making entities are typically prohibited from operating this type of business so non-profits seize the opportunity. Delancey St. Foundation is one that was highly regarded, was exposed for misdeeds and now seems to have redeemed itself. Some may remember when the International Red Cross head was routinely flying with his mistress to Paris on the Concorde for weekend escapes; far less publicized are some of the sketchy drug and alcohol half-way houses and homeless services. Red Cross is now being investigated for collecting over $500 million for relief in Haiti, but only able to show that 6 houses were built. Hope there’s an reasonable explanation, but nothing on their website refutes the criticism.

          A problem that governments have is finding service providers. When there’s only one available, then government is faced with a difficult choice. FWIW, I have great respect for Salvation Army and Catholic Charities, but not so much for many others in my area.

        • GGO – again, sidestepping the problem to laude a possible way to live passably with the symptoms. Keep the hot mess machine fueled and oiled, and loaded stock hopper, but let’s dance around it for a Kumbaya dance mix because we found a way to redirect our focus away from obvious recidivism for a portion of the half-life of the by-product.

          CA shoots seals/sea lions that hang out at private piers stealing fishermen’s catches after being caught and released hundreds of miles away. There’s two problems there too, and it doesn’t seem like the brain trust can add two and two there either. Don’t give me that “we’re talking about people” CA/NY/IL all build these serfdoms of human slack, and they keep them there with lotus so that they can vote (D) on the twelfth anniversary of their death. If you really cared about the people you wouldn’t let the tourists feed them.

          • Joe,
            Not sure I understand your point(s). But if it’s condemning stupidity, ineptitude or hypocrisy- then I couldn’t agree more with you. It’s called the Department of Corrections, but the name is an oxymoron. There’s precious little correctional outcome when the recidivism rate is almost 80%. By contrast one figure I saw for New Zealand was about 10%.

            Other countries have lower recidivism rates even though their sentencing is much less. One example I found was burglary. Canada – average sentence: 5 months v. 16 in the US. It would seem that Canada gets the same or better result for 1/3rd the cost of incarceration. Why shouldn’t we do likewise?

            Despite what some might think (Bay Area California resident, gay, community volunteer, etc.), I’m not a poster child for the bleeding heart left. In fact, I delight in making some of those types acutely uncomfortable. Recently, submitted a proposal for a $800 grant to “Train victims of domestic abuse and sex trafficking in the safe operation of firearms and obtain a Firearms Safety Certificate” [required to obtain a firearm in CA].

            Maybe it will help or introduce more women to our sport. But the grant request puts a sanctimonious anti-gun elected official who has been on a domestic violence soapbox in an awkward position. Either she recants her opposition to firearms or she facilitates ongoing domestic violence against women. At least that’s how I hope it will be portrayed and result in her loss in the next election.

            Can’t comment intelligently about shooting sea lions or their impact to fisheries. I know it’s illegal to shoot or molest them. Their main habitats [Bodega Bay, Ano Nuevo, and Farallon Islands aka Red Triangle because that’s where great whites hang out too] aren’t near fisheries to the best of my knowledge. I’d defer to others on this site that have more knowledge.

        • “One piece of the program includes finding out who are the city’s most dangerous individuals, and handing them cash as an incentive to stop pulling the trigger.”

          @GGO-That quote from the article explains exactly the problem that Joe is trying to get through your liberal skull. Paying for a problem instead of eradicating the problem. In essence Joe is saying cut off the diseased hand to save the arm, instead of paying a doctor to say it will go away and if it doesn’t just schedule another billed appointment.

          @GGO- not all Americans like living on their knees and most of us receive no pleasure being forced to bend our knees for a violent minority group.

    • If you read “Don’t Shoot!” by David Kennedy you will see that the Boston Miracle of slashing violent street crime was achieved without new gun laws but by identifying and targeting for prosecution with STIFF sentences only that small minority of gang members responsible for 80% of violent crime. This is probably also why it was abandoned by Mayor Menino because it worked too well and didn’t include draconian gun laws.


    • To be a “right thinking liberal” you must deny reality five times a day. Usually this is while the goat raping “missionaries of peace” are praying.


  2. I like the idea. It’s only rewarding those who clean up their act, not writing blank checks to offenders. $1000 a month is still less than minimum wage. I would be interested in more programs that try to reform the shooters. Prison doesn’t work.

    • Prison doesn’t work

      It doesn’t? Probably just more ACLU lawyers, braindead libtard pshrinks, weight sets, and cable channels. And more hugs and handholding.

      Work? What is to “work”? Prison is to PUNISH for antisocial lawlessness. You want anything else do it in your home at your expense,

      • The “work” part of any justice system is the one where it results a measurable reduction in crime. Why would I care about punishing someone? My worry is some future crime that might be directed at me. If imprisoning people means that more crimes happen, then prisons make us all less safe.

  3. Sounds like something perhaps conservatives and liberals could both support. Sounds worth trying more, at least.

  4. It’s not about 17 men causing 70% of shootings. If that was true you round them up in place in the pokey (assuming shooting a gun in public is against the law). It’s about creating another anti crime bloated bureaucracy program. How about having 50% of Richmond CCW and let 17 young men decide if it’s worth commiting a crime or gain employment Which would pay more than 1000 dollars a month.

    • Some thing tells me these guys have already been in the pokey. And the pricetag of lifelong incarceration is insane.

      • Yes, CA pays 53k per year per prisoner. It was bankrupting the state until Gov. Brown dumped the non violent offenders to local jurisdictions. County and city jails accepted, collecting coin then shortening sentences. Did a lot to lower state deficit. Meanwhile FL pays 23k annual for each of its prisoners. Also CA Corectional lobbyist paid 300k to then Gov Gray Davis’s campaign. Last week of his term, he signed scheduled pay raises amounting to a billion dollars over multiple years.

    • @ mk: “It’s not about 17 men causing 70% of shootings. If that was true you round them up in place in the pokey”. Except that the Liberals and the lawyers keep them out of jail because “it really isn’t their fault”. They would rather focus on feel good political solutions, like gun controls. I think rounding them up and putting them all in jail is harder to do than most of us think it would be. Program sounds kind of crazy but if it is working and the violent crime rate is down they must be doing something right.

  5. Thanks! I live an hour away from Richmond and eager to get more information from officials. Some factoids:
    * Our officials estimate that daily jail cost is ~$150 / day. 30 days in the gray-bar hotel costs taxpayers (inmates are liable for costs, but no collection is attempted) $3,000 / month.

    * Richmond and Oakland are in Alameda County, but Oakland has a much more serious crime problem. Makes me wonder why other Bay Area cities have not implemented similar programs.

    * A number of social research projects have investigated pay for performance (money for grades, school attedance, etc.) My understanding is that these show a temporary change in desired outcome, but old behavior patterns resume after a while. In effect, they reproduce the Hawthorne Effect.

    Very interesting – thanks again.

    • On that last point, I think that’s why the mentoring and counseling aspect is so important. The money is just a reinforcement aspect, not the primary goal.

    • I just wonder which way your “one-hour” distance from Richmond is. Richmond is in Contra Costa County while indeed Oakland is in Alameda County

      • Whoops! You’re right. I mostly stick to the south bay these days. Probably been 10 years since I crossed over the Richmond bridge.

    • Just so you know Oakland is in Alameda County, Richmond is in Contra Costa County. Fixed.

  6. If I was shot twice I’d move to Florida, too. Hey, if it works it works. It’s like my high school disciple issues. A very small minority make up the vast majority of problems. We had the county start a tutoring program on campus for at risk students. It turned in to party central. Students cut class to hang out. Programs like these interventions need to have close supervision or you end up like Baltimore’s safe street program where criminals are running the program.

  7. It’s not about the money, which isn’t public money anyway, per the article. It’s about the mentoring. Finding these “thugs” treating them as humans, and breaking the criminal cycle. Get them off the street, get them education, opportunities, jobs, etc. That is how you break the criminal cycle. Banning guns won’t do it. Giving them harsher and harsher punishment won’t do it. The “money to not commit crime” is completely sensationalist, it’s more like “money for not committing crimes and fulfilling your commitment to bettering yourself”.

    Honestly, I would have less of a problem with public money going to this than to expanding prisons, blowing up weddings, buying small-town PDs MRAPs, etc.

    Of course, this project may work great for Richmond, but it may not work the same everywhere else. The localized approach is probably one of the best parts of it. It’s not a faceless state bureaucracy running off of numbers only. Keeping it human is critical.

    • Since violence for “solving” problems is an immature approach, I’d call it “Money for growing up”.

  8. So the experiment is displaying the driving element behind violence is human behavior, and to modify the behavior decreases violence? So then the root or causation of violence is not firearms at all. Instead violence is caused by human beings would choose to or not do so? Better send this to Bloomberg et al so they can start saving money on the wrong campaign strategy. Ask them to donate to this program, seem behavior modification has greater identifiable outcomes.

    • Never happen. Bloomberg’s BS is not about lowering violence at all. It’s about controlling “the masses.”

      The operative word in “gun control” is “control.” They just use the “gun” front because it’s an easy sell to people’s emotions.

    • A violent criminal is hard wired to commit violent behavior. MRI studies show they lack empathy for other human beings.

      Frontline program showed out of 34 criminals arrested 10 were offered a program to remain out of jail. Out of the ten only 3-4 completed the program. That’s less than 10 percent success rate. The higher toll was on the police officers required to act as social workers while policing. So out of the 17 listed in the post only 2 will make it. And no mention what the mentors cost.

      The facts are the cost of attempted rehabilitation has a 10% success rate and the only beneficiaries are program administrators.

      When a person has little or no empathy there is no down side to prison. For a criminal, prison handles Maslows hierarchy of needs…food, shelter, clothing…a criminal never reaches self actualization.

      • @mk: I think you make a good point but I doubt that all violent criminals are the same in that way. That is, some of them probably do possess some empathy for others but don’t give in to that emotion because it would make them look weak in front of their thug buddies. Stereotypes that try to explain the actions of groups are hardly ever true for everyone in that group 100% of the time.

      • Frontline program showed out of 34 criminals arrested 10 were offered a program to remain out of jail. Out of the ten only 3-4 completed the program. That’s less than 10 percent success rate.

        So it’s better to not have it at all?

        The higher toll was on the police officers required to act as social workers while policing.

        I’d rather have social worker police than executioner police.

        And no mention what the mentors cost.

        Still cheaper than prison.

        Making blanket assumptions and applying them to all is the problem. Everybody is different.

        Gatha has it right with “Stereotypes that try to explain the actions of groups are hardly ever true for everyone in that group 100% of the time.” This goes both ways, for criminals, gun owners, etc.

      • Agree. Recidivism is a major problem. I believe CA’s prison average is ~80% – i..e, 80% get re-incarcertaed within 5 years. The comparisons aren’t precise due to measurement differences, but efforts in Santa Clara County jails where I volunteer is about 20 points better ~ 60% recidivism. Job training, mental health counseling, and employment referrals are some of the components.

        Also volunteer (as part of a religious group) to mentor released ex-cons from San Quentin and Soledad state prisons. Rebuilding family relationships seems critical turning one’s life around.

        MRI studies looked promising at one time, but upon closer examination they haven’t panned out as a behavioral predictor. One problem is brain plasticity – we can actually reprogram ourselves. Lots of research, particularly at the University of Wisconsin / Madison.

        • IMHO, having worked with young men trying to change, the majority of recidivism is because the system turns them out of prison with a “Fuck you, we’re going to make things as hard as possible on you, and ruin your life however we can”, so getting the offenders back becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Guys get sent “home” from prison when there’s no home to go to, are required to pay $65/month for the privilege of being persecuted by a “supervision” officer, are required to fork over $250 at that officer’s whim for urine tests, get stopped by cops ’cause the cops are bored and see someone they know they can harrass, are sent to anger management and other “programs” they’re required to pay for….

          More than one guy I’ve worked with has had to pay just about an entire minimum wage paycheck to the state for the privilege of being under the state’s thumb. For state employees, it’s a control freak’s dream; supervision officers can literally order a “client” to do anything they please, with no reason needed, and it’s a crime to not follow the orders — so they demand their “clients” lie about other clients, or about some guy the cops are trying to get, that they live in certain places, or not live in certain places, that they not have contact with some people, that they drive a certain type of vehicle, or not drive certain types of vehicles, that they check in twice a week, often costing time off work… all because the officer feels like it.

          Three defense attorneys I know advise their clients to never take probation — they call it “persecution”. One even used that term to the D.A.’s face in court, as in “So you turned one action into five crimes, and now you’re offering my client a hundred eighty days in jail and two years of persecution. How does this serve justice?”

          So these “clients” of the state are treated like trash, taught to have no self-respect, shown they’re worthless except for all the fees they can be required to pay . . . and people are surprised when they commit more crimes? It’s far and away easier to handle life in jail than to deal with the persecution the state employs to “teach them a lesson”, or whatever.

          Oh — and when they condescend to assign community service, around here that means washing cop cars. Is there anything better designed to make them fail to feel they’re doing something worthwhile? One young guy I was working with recently said he’d rather spend a hundred hours pulling and digging invasive species out by the roots than one day washing cop cars!

          • Thanks – exceptionally well stated.

            While I’ve met some decent POs and criminal justice employees, there are many who aren’t. Compounding the problem is fragmentation – there’s no single throat to choke for outcomes and many playing the blame game among various piece parts of the system.

  9. I lived for a few years in central Richmond, the biggest fear among my neighbors was driveby,s. Most would rather shoot at a suspicious car than risk getting shot. Yes the real criminals were few in numbers but created a atmosphere of fear and hostility in the city. Easily obtainable ccw’s and stand your ground laws would be the most effective way to cut crime

  10. This is really old news. In the 1997 the city of Richmond, Virginia had a huge violent crime problem. They undertook “Project Exile”. The small group of violent criminals were identified and notified through family, community leaders and churches that if they offended again, there would be no plea bargains and no deals, only a minimum 5 years hard time . The murder rate dropped from around 140 a year to 55. Other violent crimes also dropped dramatically. The policy was eventually dropped due to disproportionate racial impact.

  11. Some how, some way, the NRA and its members have turned this small group of people into supervillains. Maybe it was the church going, or the two parent households, or the quality family time, but it was definitely something they did. Now I will go buy some dope and blog all night about social justice.


  12. $1000 a month is chicken feed. If the program works, it will save millions and maybe some lives.

    Do I think it actually can work? No, I don’t. But if it keeps the scvmbags from committing crimes for even a period of months, it would probably be worth it.

  13. Gotta give ’em a Godfather-esque deal that they can’t refuse.

    Be good, get a grand or two a month until you get onto your feet.

    Be bad, get a bullet to the brain pan.

    ‘Cause it’s not like you don’t know who they are or where they live at that point.

    Jail don’t scare sociopaths and other predators, but outright and guaranteed death might.

    Gotta use the carrot AND the stick.

    • LOL

      That’s how the Emperor Augustus cleaned up gang crime in the Roman Empire back in the day: he sent legates into the cities to find the most disciplined — not the most powerful, but the most disciplined — gangs and offered a deal: either you work for us, or we kill you and your competitors and level your neighborhoods. Those who accepted got “reinforcements” for their gangs in the form of hardened legion veterans, along with resources, to wipe out their opposition. When that was done, the gang members got to join the legions or the slave ships. I don’t recall reading that any chose the latter! Then they were shipped to another city that hadn’t been “tamed” yet. In less than ten years, Augustus’ program eliminated all significant organized crime in the cities.

      Then he sent some legates to meet with pirates . . . .

      Of course our legal system wouldn’t allow that approach, more’s the pity.

      • id think twice before holding up the roman empire as a paragon of jurisprudence worthy of emulation, if i were you.

    • For many people who join ISIS, that is actually very likely to prevent them from joining. If it were to work and result in fewer deaths and more people working normal lives, why would you have a problem with that?

      • Except many of Isis members that have sought out the group are very educated and would have no problem finding a job. You apparently have never been to the Middle East because people dont join these organizations because they’re poor, they join for ideology. Also, when Isis rolls into town, it’s one of those deals where you get with the program or die. No one has the luxury like you suggest to just avoid them. You are a brain washed fool.

        • You see, I happen to know personally people from the regions where ISIS is recruiting heavily these days, such as Central Asia. So I do have it on good notice that most recruits don’t start as brainwashed Islamist fanatics. They do start as people out of a job, in a society where marrying a woman requires a large dowry, for example, and so with no prospect of ever marrying in the next 20 years. And then a preacher comes and says that all this injustice is because of people flaunting the rules and laws set by Allah – and they listen because, well, they know full well that things are wrong, and they want to know why. And when someone gives them a simple explanation and tells them that they can actually change all this if only they take up arms for the right cause, it all falls on fertile ground. By the time they actually get to ISIS, yeah, they’re driven largely by ideology, not by original concerns. But that’s the way it starts.

          Your point about “many members are very educated” is misleading, because it focuses on two subsets that are disproportionately covered in media: the leadership, and recruits from Western countries. These guys, yeah, are often way better off, and the main cause for them is ideological from the get go, especially for the younger. But they don’t make the majority of the Caliphate’s forces. The cannon fodder is mostly poor folk from Muslim countries, both in the region (esp. the Gulf monarchies), and from other piss-poor regions such as Central Asia.

  14. Of course, they aren’t paying them for crimes. They aren’t even paying them for not committing crimes in the future. They’re paying them to engage and successfully complete a rehabilitation program that has shown to have a very strong positive effect if so completed, transforming a potential or real criminal into a productive member of society that contributes to the benefit of us all. And they still manage to spend less than they’d have to spend on using the justice system to completely get rid of them, if due process is to be respected (and of course, in that case, they wouldn’t get the benefits of having several more producers raising stable families in the long-term, either).

  15. I agree, that most crimes are wealth related. People who have money AND a perpective in life don’t have the necessity to commit crimes. If they still do, it’s a psychological dysfunction in their brain and they have to be removed from society entirely (counts especially for the upper rank sociopaths in politics, banks and economy!).

    Therefore I find it too easy to say “giving money solves the crime problem”. It will solve some problems for those, who commit crimes out of poverty, but not for those, who already have money and still try to destroy the world (banksters, corrupt politicians, a.s.o.). In their case, the right thing to do would be to strip them from all of their money and power.

    Because those sociopaths with money and power are the most dangerous criminals in the world, the priority of getting them away from society should be the priority. The rest is penny-ante stuff.

  16. This was tried in Iraq. Let’s see how well it kept working as soon as the money dried up; just turn on CNN.

    • Deuce, Good point and not clear. Not a lot of recent news about the program, but I did find this

      Looks like it’s not completely kosher. Notice how 2014’s data omits 5 gun homicides, but those aren’t reflected in prior years giving a grand total of 16 gun related homicides in 2013 & 2014 and screwing up the steady decline.

      1998 is interesting. 17 gun homicides as is 2001 with 18- but both bracketed by significantly higher numbers.

      A better analysis would adjust for population (show rates / 100,000), then use statistical process control to determine the systemic gun homicide rate plus process changes. There may have been significant changes due to other factors. Tough to say without an analysis.

      While the decline is impressive, Richmond still has > 3X the US rate (4.7 / 100K in metro counties; 3.4 for non-metro – source:

      To what extent is funding a factor? Not clear. ~16 deaths / 100K may be the best that can be achieved for Richmond.

  17. “Of course, there’s something that just doesn’t seem right about finding people who commit crimes and then rewarding them for it. Morally, it doesn’t seem right at all.”

    Well, if it’s private money being used, let ’em try it.

    (Bloomie, et. all)

    A good next step may be to see how well it scales. Oakland, for example.

    See if what works on the chemist’s lab bench scales up to the pilot plant level. (so to speak)

    It may be a worthwhile “Put up or shut up” to use on the Progressives.

  18. Very thoughtful discussion here, thanks to all who contributed to that.

    On targeting the small number of people who create mayhem for the large number of innocent people in these communities, without specifically targeting guns, see also David Kennedy’s work in places like Boston and High Point, NC. Written about in his book “Don’t Shoot.”

  19. Seems to me that if just 20 guys did almost all the crime in a city of 100,000 then just keep them in jail. That’s what three strikes laws started as. The problem is that three strikes also netted nonviolent minor drug offenders.

    Small efforts like this often succeed because they are administered by a small group of intense managers. But if you try this outside of this small pilot project, the result will be criminals learning to extort money from bureaucrats.

  20. 17 guys eh? Back in the day, the answer would have been “rope is reusable”. It’s not like these guys are shop lifters they are shooting people. Just sayin’.

  21. I’m a teacher in a high school. A very small percentage of students create the majority of the problems. It’s WHO you deal with, not how many. It’s not making more POINTLESS rules but keeping up with the knuckleheads who need “guidance.”

  22. I worked at a state prison in CA in the 80’s. My idea of reform is as follows.

    1) Eliminate probation. Do your full time. This removes the need for a probation enforcement arm and all its related corruption and misuse.

    2) Make education and job training mandatory parts of the sentence. You don’t graduate from prison til you graduate from high school.

    3) Offer tax breaks for private companies to hire graduated x prisoners.

    Having said that I also recognise that violent people, rapist, murderers, etc. should be seperated out from the genpop and simply put away. Period.

    End this phony drug war. Mandatory treatment for drug addicts instead of jail time. At least until the addict proves themselves to be untreatable.

    • JWM,
      Thank you for for your service and insights. My volunteer involvement in correctional facilities is through recovery programs.

      From DOC site: “The Santa Clara County Department of Correction books approximately 65,000 arrestees annually. The average length of stay is about 110 days, and 80 percent of the population has a history of drug or alcohol related problems.”

      Wish I could be more enthusiastic about treatment programs, but successful outcome rates are not encouraging AFAIK. No uniform criteria. Different studies give different results. One of the better articles I saw was in the LA Times a few years ago after actor Charlie Sheen’s meltdown. A reporter contacted a number of addiction medicine authorities. One take-away was in low teens percentage (~ 14%) for those that don’t relapse within a 2 year period. Seems consistent with other rates I’ve seen published elsewhere.

      There are claims that absence based programs need to be complemented by harm reduction based programs (i.e., controlled substance use) and the data isn’t as bleak when that approach is taken. In my experience, someone needs to decide when they’re ready to make a good faith effort. Mandatory programs don’t seem to be any more successful than voluntary ones. But I’m not an expert – just a participant.

      War on drugs? Agree. Current approach simply isn’t working and no hope that it ever will. Reminds me of the sign I saw in the break room that some wag posted: THE BEATINGS WILL CONTINUE UNTIL MORALE IMPROVES.

  23. If they know which guys are doing the vast bulk of the shootings, then the way to fix it is to take those guys on an aircraft ride and kick them out over the Pacific at FL80 with no parachutes. Problem solved, problem staying solved.

  24. It’s not rewarding them for crime, it’s affording them an honest chance at rehabilitation. I think it’s a vision. Sure it wouldn’t work everywhere, but I think the current results speak for themselves.

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